Back-to-School Checklist: Don't Forget to Add Dental Appointments

By Claudia Rojas on July 20, 2023 in Children’s Oral Health

Child at the dentist

As the new school year begins, make your back-to-school checklist complete with a dental appointment for your students. A healthy smile not only boosts your child’s concentration and performance in the classroom, but it could also lead to fewer school absences. Delta Dental of Illinois is here to help you ensure your child starts the new school year with a smile!

More than 25% of parents with children ages 3-12 report their child experienced a dental issue in the past year. Of these children, 55% missed school, with those affected missing an average of four days.1

Oral health issues can prevent children from focusing in class, leading to academic setbacks. “Untreated oral health problems can cause discomfort, making it difficult for children to concentrate in school,” said Dr. Sheila Strock, Vice President, Dental Services and Science Officer at Delta Dental of Illinois. “When a child has serious tooth decay, it can affect overall health and can lead to problems eating, speaking and learning.”

Regular dental checkups are crucial for identifying and addressing dental issues early on. This not only ensures healthy teeth but also supports school readiness and learning. In Illinois, children in kindergarten, second, sixth, and ninth grade are required to have a dental exam.

In 2022, we made significant progress in addressing oral healthcare challenges through our Community Grants program. We collaborated with organizations across the state to ensure more people have access to dental care. Additionally, we expanded patient outreach efforts to reach individuals in need of high-quality care. Our partnerships with after-school programs enabled us to provide both dental care and education to children and improve children’s oral health in Illinois. We recognize the importance of preventive care, especially when children are starting a new school year.

“Preventive appointments that check for oral health risk factors should be part of every child's back-to-school routine,” said Strock. “Families with insurance should check their policies to make sure they are taking advantage of every preventive benefit.”

Follow these tips to help make back-to-school health appointments easier:

Choose the right doctors

Book appointments with a pediatric dentist who is skilled in treating children and strives to provide a friendly environment for them. Opting for a family-friendly dental office ensures your child's visit is comfortable and enjoyable.

Minimize uncertainty

Prepare your children for their dental appointments by explaining what will happen and highlighting the importance of dental visits for their health. Reading fun books about oral health habits, including visiting the dentist, can further reinforce the significance of proper tooth care for kids.

Plan a healthy reward

Make the appointments extra fun for kids by planning a healthy activity afterwards like a family bike ride or a trip for frozen yogurt.

Set a positive example

Help ease your child’s fear of the dentist by letting them know that you go too! Dental appointments can be intimidating for kids, but sharing your own positive experiences and showing them that you stay calm can make a big difference.

Simplify your back-to-school preparations by scheduling a dentist appointment now using our convenient Find a Dentist tool!